What Now?! – December 28, 2019

Josh Rogin reports that Trump is already searching for a new Secretary of State: “The person most often mentioned to succeed Pompeo is national security adviser Robert O’Brien. Trump really likes O’Brien, several officials told me, and has given him increased diplomatic responsibilities since he became the president’s fourth national security adviser in September. O’Brien stood in for Trump at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Thailand in October. He accompanied Vice President Pence and Pompeo to Turkey to negotiate a Syria cease-fire.”

“The other main contender at this point is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Some officials believe Mnuchin is angling for the job, and some say he is simply in contention but not actively lobbying. Either way, he’s on the list. Mnuchin is very close to Trump personally and has been treasury secretary for almost three years.”

“Video recordings of the interviews obtained by the New York Times, which have not been shown publicly before, were part of a trove of Navy investigative materials about the prosecution of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher on war crimes charges including murder.”

“They offer the first opportunity outside the courtroom to hear directly from the men of Alpha platoon, SEAL Team 7, whose blistering testimony about their platoon chief was dismissed by President Trump when he upended the military code of justice to protect Chief Gallagher from the punishment.”

Yoscha Mounk: “Many observers of India have been surprised that Modi has grown so much more extreme in his second term in office. But a comparison of populist governments around the world suggests that India is following a predictable pattern of what would-be authoritarians do when they win reelection.”

“As we’ve seen in countries including Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, populist leaders are at first hamstrung in their ability to concentrate power in their own hands. Many key institutions, including courts and electoral commissions, are still dominated by independent-minded professionals who do not owe their appointment to the new regime. Media outlets are still able and willing to report on scandals, forcing the government to tread somewhat carefully.”

“Once these governments win reelection, these constraints begin to fall away. As the independent-minded judges and civil servants depart, populist leaders feel emboldened to pursue their illiberal dreams.”

Vox highlights analysis from political scientist Ryan Burge which “finds that on issues ranging from border security to immigration detention, white evangelicals — a group that includes dozens of individual denominations, from the Southern Baptist Convention to the Pentecostal movement — are substantially more conservative than the average American and even the next most conservative religious group.”

And it’s his immigration policy that is the most unChristian thing about Trump. Revealing of course that Evangelicals are not Christian, and by that I mean, followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible.

Now that the Christmas holiday has passed without a “gift” from the North Korean regime, US officials are puzzled why Kim Jong Un chose not to conduct a weapons test so far, CNN reports.

New York Times: “With less than six weeks until voting begins, the loyalty Mr. Sanders commands has turned him into a formidable contender in the 2020 race. Despite having a heart attack in October that threatened to derail his second quest for the Democratic nomination, he remains at or near the top of polls in Iowa and other early states, lifted by his near ubiquitous name recognition and an enviable bank account.”

A new Economist/YouGov survey asked 1,500 U.S. adults how they thought President Trump would be remembered. Poll participants were asked to choose from the options “outstanding,” “above average,” “average,” “below average” or “poor.”

The largest share of respondents—40 percent—said they Trump will be described in the history books as a “poor” commander-in-chief. Another 9 percent of those polled said that Trump would go down as a “below average” president.

Washington Post on the aftermath of the Ukraine scandal: “The new Russia adviser at the White House — the third in just six months — has no meaningful background on the subject. The only expert on Ukraine has never spoken with President Trump, only been mocked by him publicly.”

“The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv will soon be without its highest-ranking diplomat for the second time in a year, as another ambassador departs after being undermined by the U.S. president and his personal attorney.”

“The CIA analyst who triggered the impeachment inquiry continues to work on issues relating to Russia and Ukraine, but when threats against him spike — often seemingly spurred by presidential tweets — he is driven to and from work by armed security officers.”

This Todd interview has been met with a collective “No fucking shit, dumbass” reaction from everyone on the political spectrum, and have rightfully condemned Todd from not realizing it years if not decades ago. To wit, Nancy LeTourneau: “How naive could Todd have been during all of those months that Donald Trump was peddling the birther lie about Barack Obama as a way to launch himself on the national political stage? Where was Todd back in 2012 when political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote that “the GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition?”

Chuck Todd has been the political director at NBC News since 2007. He is heralded as an expert on the subject. And yet it has taken him until 2019 to grasp that Republicans have been manipulating him with their lies.”

A new YouGov survey finds 41% of Germans believe President Trump is more of a threat to world peace than North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping or Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The results show the degree to which trust in U.S. leadership has eroded under Trump, even among countries like Germany that are traditionally viewed as close allies.”

“Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign may not be taking money from some of the most influential Democratic donors on Wall Street, but he is working hard to convince them he has a path to win the nomination,” CNBC reports.

“Bloomberg and his team made their pitch Dec. 19 to at least 90 attendees, including many New York business executives, at a breakfast at his campaign headquarters in New York, according to people who attended.”

“Democrats are bracing for a long, drawn-out primary season,” The Hill reports.

“With just six weeks until the Iowa caucuses, some Democrats say they don’t expect a likely nominee to emerge anytime soon after early-voting states hold their contests. Instead, they’re preparing for a bruising four-way match-up that could drag on for months as candidates compete for the chance to challenge President Trump.”

Kimberley Strassel: “Republicans dismiss Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to transmit the impeachment articles to the Senate as a weak stunt. They do so at the peril of both the Constitution and President Trump. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be a master tactician, but Mrs. Pelosi is no slouch.”

CNN: “President Trump can’t seem to get Nancy Pelosi out of his head, even as most of the rest of the nation enjoys a holiday halftime break from the impeachment drama.”

“His anger is boiling as the politics of impeachment evolve in a slow burn over the Christmas and New Year break, with pressure rising on senators of both parties over his coming Senate trial.”

“Trump, between rounds of golf and greeting guests at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, keeps returning to vent fury at the House speaker who led his impeachment a week ago.”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel easily brushed off a challenge for the leadership of the conservative Likud party early Friday, a crucial victory for Israel’s longest-serving leader but one that may only harden the country’s yearlong political standoff,” the New York Times reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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